Inland Empire News
Men shot by off-duty Huntington Park cop file federal lawsuit
CHINO HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- Two men who were shot by an off-duty police officer in an alleged road rage incident are speaking out after filing a federal lawsuit.
"It happened so quick. It was hard to figure out what was going on. He shot within 10 seconds of getting out of the car," said plaintiff Brian Sloma.
Sloma and Addison Weeks said their lives have been shattered after the officer opened fire on them and two friends.
"Still can't believe it happened. Every day you still feel like you're in shock. You think about it every day and it gets you," said Weeks.
The incident, which ended in gunfire last October in front of Drip Coffee in Chino Hills, began with an alleged road rage incident on the 71 Freeway. The pair says Ricardo Curiel, who is a Huntington Park police officer, followed them for several miles until they pulled into the mall parking lot. The four friends in Sloma's car got out and that's when they say Curiel started shooting.
"They never told us that it was an officer. He never announced himself," said Sloma. "The whole time I was just thinking, wow, this guy was just mad, some random person."
Sloma was hit three times. Weeks was hit four times and has suffered permanent disability. Both men face additional surgeries.
At the time of the incident, investigators said Curiel thought the four men were armed and grabbed his gun. Authorities say they found a knife and pepper spray at the scene. Three of the four in the car were arrested based on what the off-duty officer said, but no charges were ever filed.
"The officer was treated preferentially. He wasn't even interrogated, from what I understand. He wasn't even videotaped. They didn't even seize his car, from what we understand. They can't even account for all the casings. We don't even know how many times he shot," said attorney Ed Madrid, who represents the plaintiffs.
The men are now suing the Huntington Park Police Department and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department for civil rights violations in state and federal court. The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office says Curiel's actions remain under investigation.
In a statement, the attorney representing Huntington Park police said, "Until the review is completed, it will be premature for the Police Department to comment at this time."
Sloma and Weeks said Curiel should be held responsible for his actions.
"Why would that be the first thing he thought to do? That reaction, you know, doesn't make sense to me," said Sloma.
officer-involved shooting, inland empire news, leanne suter
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